counter create hit Version Control - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Version Control

Availability: Ready to download

Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the President seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet. Meanwhile, her husband's decade-long dedication to his invention, the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you not call a “time machine”) has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or can possibly imagine. Version Control is about a possible near future, but it’s also about the way we live now. It’s about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It’s about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help — and fail to help — each other through it.


Compare

Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the President seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet. Meanwhile, her husband's decade-long dedication to his invention, the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you not call a “time machine”) has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or can possibly imagine. Version Control is about a possible near future, but it’s also about the way we live now. It’s about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It’s about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help — and fail to help — each other through it.

30 review for Version Control

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kelsey

    An absolute masterpiece of literature, SF or otherwise.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    Every now and then when I'm reading a novel I think, "I want to hold on to this. This is a special experience." I had that thought while reading VERSION CONTROL. I wanted it to last longer, I wanted to read it for a month. It's not just that I love the way little bits of science-fiction and magical realism suddenly show up in this story, it's also how it manages to be so clearly intelligent and so emotionally wise. If I was on a first date with this book, I'd immediately be trying to figure out Every now and then when I'm reading a novel I think, "I want to hold on to this. This is a special experience." I had that thought while reading VERSION CONTROL. I wanted it to last longer, I wanted to read it for a month. It's not just that I love the way little bits of science-fiction and magical realism suddenly show up in this story, it's also how it manages to be so clearly intelligent and so emotionally wise. If I was on a first date with this book, I'd immediately be trying to figure out if it was into me because I would be desperate for this book to be my partner. Oh, the joys of this book. There are the things I related to: the world of online dating, a lab full of scientists, the strange back and forth of a marriage in decline. There was also much I didn't: groups of girlfriends on the town, the lethargy of millennial 20-somethings, life after the loss of a child. But every single second of it felt so true and so fully realized that I would have to remind myself that the author was not a scientist, not a millennial woman, and not living in the very-near-future where this book is set. It's very strange to get a book that so fully understands so many aspects of the human condition, that is full of lines you want to read aloud to the person sitting next to you, and is also so bitingly satirical and so right-on with its sci-fi aspects. I would definitely pair this book with Lauren Groff's FATES AND FURIES, very different characters and stories but definitely structural similarities and emotionally resonant in similar ways. I did find the Coda (and some of the second part) not quite as strong as the first half of the book, though much of it was due to the fact that both sections required extensive exposition which pulled me out of the book's rhythm a bit. Almost every year I read a book in the fall that's due for a January release that I know will end up on my best books list (2015: Welcome to Braggsville, 2014: The Weirdness) and that does in fact end up there. This is the one for 2016.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joachim Stoop

    I'm afraid Mr. Palmer will never get the cheer and attention he deserves for this novel. I guess because it's too SF for the Literature with capital L-lovers and too literary and 'normal' for the die hard SF-lovers. The thing is: this book is sooo good. The absolute fun I felt reading this is actually quite rare. It contains an avalanche of cool ideas, nerdy views, philosophical and scientific thinking of a level you wouldn't expect to encounter in this genre. The story is totally accomplished, I'm afraid Mr. Palmer will never get the cheer and attention he deserves for this novel. I guess because it's too SF for the Literature with capital L-lovers and too literary and 'normal' for the die hard SF-lovers. The thing is: this book is sooo good. The absolute fun I felt reading this is actually quite rare. It contains an avalanche of cool ideas, nerdy views, philosophical and scientific thinking of a level you wouldn't expect to encounter in this genre. The story is totally accomplished, everything is incredibly real in the incredible. It contains the technological dystopian warnings of Eggers The circle, Adichie's insights on everyday 'accidental' racism, intertwining storylines as in the better crime novel, hard hitting metaphores etc. Highly recommended! This is and will remain one of my best books of 2016 Btw. try to get your hands on the audiobook. It is perfect btw. I give it 4,75 because it needed just a bit of editing

  4. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Ennui Millennial musings about life, love and the point of the universe. Lots of characters, lots of issues. Endless soul searching, tech referencing, white-girl conversing, couples coupling and uncoupling while a vaguely threatening new political order operates in the background. At several points I thought I grasped a possible central theme emerging from the set-piece conversations. The presumptuousness of scientific method, the adverse social effects of infotech, the perennial haplessness of th Ennui Millennial musings about life, love and the point of the universe. Lots of characters, lots of issues. Endless soul searching, tech referencing, white-girl conversing, couples coupling and uncoupling while a vaguely threatening new political order operates in the background. At several points I thought I grasped a possible central theme emerging from the set-piece conversations. The presumptuousness of scientific method, the adverse social effects of infotech, the perennial haplessness of the young, the relevance (or lack of it) of philosophical inquiry (particularly about time travel) and modern practises of grief popped up as candidates, only to see them diluted in the rising sea of topics, concerns, arguments, and existential angst. Do people really talk like this? “But most people don’t want to—don’t laugh—most people don’t want to change the world, right? They might, you know, go out and vote or something, but for the most part they’re happy to live in the world like it is. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But stupid me—I have ideals.” Not in my generation. It’s all so cute, so twee, so self-centred. Ultimately I think I found the key in my own experience of reading the book: boredom. These are boring lives engaged in a boring society with only the most boring responses to events. Cheap science, cheap politics and cheap theology drown out the possibility for empathy in the background of human tragedy. Yet another story, therefore, that makes me glad to be past it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    This is a clever story of time travel. This is a long discourse on physics and on scientific minutiae I found hard to track and impossible to fully comprehend. This is a funny story of online dating featuring a future population who live their lives online and seldom meet face to face. This is all of these things. Does it work? Well, sort of… but it is a really strange mix. Set in the near future, a group of physicists are working to develop a machine they call a Causality Violation Device. The t This is a clever story of time travel. This is a long discourse on physics and on scientific minutiae I found hard to track and impossible to fully comprehend. This is a funny story of online dating featuring a future population who live their lives online and seldom meet face to face. This is all of these things. Does it work? Well, sort of… but it is a really strange mix. Set in the near future, a group of physicists are working to develop a machine they call a Causality Violation Device. The team is led by Philip Steiner, a no doubt bright and honest man but one with no visible sense of humour and very little (if any) self awareness. His wife, Rebecca, works for the online dating company through which they met. Philip works long hours and Rebecca drinks. The actual nature of ‘the machine’ is shrouded in obscure scientific gibberish, but the uninformed sometimes refer to it as a time machine. Not in Philip’s hearing though, he’d be likely to administer capital punishment for such a heinous crime. Two things become clear. Firstly, the machine doesn’t seem to work and the scientists have no clear path to changing this state. Secondly, at some stage in the past few years Philip and Rebecca have lost their only son, Sean. In time it becomes clear that the death was a result of a car accident; the car was an auto-drive vehicle (as are almost all cars in this new world) and as warnings sounded inside the vehicle Rebecca had grabbed the steering wheel, thereby assuming control of it’s last vital movement. This movement caused a catastrophic collision to the passenger side, the side carrying Sean. Understandably, Rebecca has always blamed herself for her son’s death. At this point I thought I knew where this one was going, but the story turned out to be much cleverer than I gave it credit for. The story is told from multiple points of view and switches, unnervingly, between the elements I mentioned at the start of this review. In consequence I sometimes struggled to get a handle on things, although it does all come out in the wash and the very well thought out time travel element eventually delivers brilliantly. As for the physics, well it felt to me that this was just a way of trying to combat the natural reluctance of readers to believe such a machine could exist. Maybe the science made some kind of sense – I have no idea. And the dating stuff? Well this was just weird! I’m not sure it added anything to the plot and some of the technological advances featured here and in the broader side-story narrative felt unlikely in the extreme. So how to rate this book? It’s probably a three star offering, for me, but if it had been trimmed of the dating stuff I’d have rated it higher. An inventive and well thought out piece of science fiction let down by some blatant over-egging of the pudding.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Causality Violation SF: “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer “For months now, Rebecca had felt what she could only describe as a certain subtle wrongness – not within herself, but in the world. She found it impossible to place its source, for the fault in the nature of things seemed to reside both everywhere and nowhere. Countless things just felt a little off to her.”   In “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer   A lot of the debate around this If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Causality Violation SF: “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer “For months now, Rebecca had felt what she could only describe as a certain subtle wrongness – not within herself, but in the world. She found it impossible to place its source, for the fault in the nature of things seemed to reside both everywhere and nowhere. Countless things just felt a little off to her.”   In “Version Control” by Dexter Palmer   A lot of the debate around this book must be surely undermined by the lack of a clear definition of time.   The idea of time 'moving forwards or backwards' is just a metaphor that people adopt because it's easy to identify with physical objects that move and since time is a dimension- a dimension of space-time, the continuum in which everything has its being. Time itself doesn't 'move' or 'pass' any more than length can pass or move. However, everything moves, or occupies a series of different points, in space-time. I also suspect that our perception of time as a progression in one direction, with a remembered past and a future of multiple unrealized possibilities, is a 'fiction' or mental construction that allows us to make sense of cause and effect. If we could imagine a being outside of space-time, whether God, or Vonnegut's Tralfamadoreans, that being would see all those points simultaneously. As we do when we remember someone's life.    

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol (Bookaria)

    “Isn’t that the fantasy? If I go back in time, knowing what people back then didn’t know, then I can change history! But history made you what you are. And it’s bigger than any one man.” ― Dexter Palmer, Version Control This book tells the story of Rebecca whose husband Phillip is a scientist. Phillip works in a lab that is building a "Casuality violation device". Many people refer to this machine as a "time machine" but he would prefer that you do not call it so! This is where the story starts b “Isn’t that the fantasy? If I go back in time, knowing what people back then didn’t know, then I can change history! But history made you what you are. And it’s bigger than any one man.” ― Dexter Palmer, Version Control This book tells the story of Rebecca whose husband Phillip is a scientist. Phillip works in a lab that is building a "Casuality violation device". Many people refer to this machine as a "time machine" but he would prefer that you do not call it so! This is where the story starts but what it reveals is much deeper than that. The book is narrated mainly by Rebecca. Rebecca has this ongoing feeling that there is something wrong with the present, she can't put her finger on what but there is definitely something off. There are other characters in the story and they are very insightful on matters related to online dating, automated business processes, scientists, casual racism, technology, and much more. This book completely surprised me, first, I cannot believe it escaped my radar last year when it came out and, second, it is so insightful. You read this book because of the characters' revelations and ideas, although the plot is interesting what takes it to the next level is its wisdom. This book is amazing. Overall I loved this book and highly recommend it. Review also posted on link: blog About the author: Website Twitter

  8. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    When trying to articulate my thoughts on Version Control, one of my favorite lines from Vonnegut comes to mind - "Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, It might have been." To say this is a "time travel novel" (don't call it time travel!) feels crazy reductive. To attempt to describe this novel in any few words feels reductive. It's many things at once, and the biggest surprise is that it succeeds thoroughly at being all of them. This is my first time reading Dexter Palmer, and I'm When trying to articulate my thoughts on Version Control, one of my favorite lines from Vonnegut comes to mind - "Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, It might have been." To say this is a "time travel novel" (don't call it time travel!) feels crazy reductive. To attempt to describe this novel in any few words feels reductive. It's many things at once, and the biggest surprise is that it succeeds thoroughly at being all of them. This is my first time reading Dexter Palmer, and I'm glad I picked this one up on a whim. Version Control is, quite simply, an intelligent, one of a kind masterpiece for the tech savvy, social networking, online dating, post-Matrix generation. It goes from being a philosophical sort of diatribe against the extremes of technology (the dangers, the way it separates us; but also conversely, the way it joins and forms us), to downright laugh out loud funny to reaching for the nearest box of Kleenex within a matter of pages. I can't remember the last time I was this affected by a book. Philip Steiner, joke among his peers (or is he?), is a physicist who has devoted his life to the invention of a Causality Violation Device (very specifically "NOT A TIME MACHINE"). The thing is, nobody knows if the device works or more problematically, how it might work. The more interesting character here is Philip's wife, Rebecca Wright. It's an amusing yet highly believable scenario of opposites attracting. These two shouldn't work together, but they meet through the magic of online dating, and sparks ignite, for better or worse. This marriage is every bit as complex and captivating as something out of a Gillian Flynn novel. Philip and Rebecca are combustible and fascinating together: he the obsessed, almost married to his work mad scientist; she the sad alcoholic mother to a deceased son and star worker for a shady online dating service called Lovability. There's something all too relatable about Rebecca: how she talks about her unemployed "blackout periods" after college, her myriad contradictions, the degrees of deception and loyalty she contains, the things she does for love and family. She's the heart and soul of this story. But every character here is well-developed and essential to the narrative, from Rebecca's minister father to the tough as nails, brilliant and impenetrable Alicia, Philip's younger colleague at his lab. Palmer makes the reader invested in every single one of them. It's been days since I've finished reading this, and I still can't stop thinking about it. Far and away my best of 2016 so far. If you like stories about time travel, and you want something entirely unique, and you just read one book this year - read this one. You won't be disappointed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Snotchocheez

    4.5 stars UPDATE 3/13/17 I still don't have a coherent review formulated for this one, but Tournament of Books fans: In a huuuuuge opening-round upset (okay not so huge, as I really didn't much care for Ms. Strout's near-novella-in-length posing as a meaningful sadness treatise), Version Control beats out My Name is Lucy Barton. (Sorry, Strout fans, but Version Control is a really wonderful example of speculative fiction done right, and I could not not be happier for its advance in the ToB '1 4.5 stars UPDATE 3/13/17 I still don't have a coherent review formulated for this one, but Tournament of Books fans: In a huuuuuge opening-round upset (okay not so huge, as I really didn't much care for Ms. Strout's near-novella-in-length posing as a meaningful sadness treatise), Version Control beats out My Name is Lucy Barton. (Sorry, Strout fans, but Version Control is a really wonderful example of speculative fiction done right, and I could not not be happier for its advance in the ToB '17. I'd love to see this make it to the Final Four, or farther. http://themorningnews.org/tob/ ------------------ Review to come (hopefully; a book this criminally under-read needs some attention)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Kitzmiller

    Version Control is a book I really wanted to love, but didn't. I'm a time travel sci-fi junkie, and so thought it would be a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, I think Palmer took too much time before he got to his point. There was a lot of character development and events that didn't seem to really have a lot to do with the overall plot - almost like he couldn't decide if he was writing sci fi or literary fiction. I kept thinking, "Okay, okay, let's move things along!" I almost quit reading hal Version Control is a book I really wanted to love, but didn't. I'm a time travel sci-fi junkie, and so thought it would be a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, I think Palmer took too much time before he got to his point. There was a lot of character development and events that didn't seem to really have a lot to do with the overall plot - almost like he couldn't decide if he was writing sci fi or literary fiction. I kept thinking, "Okay, okay, let's move things along!" I almost quit reading halfway through, but ultimately the desire to find out how it all ended won out. If I could give half stars, I would probably have given this one 2 1/2, but I erred on the side of generosity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    Almost from the moment I picked it up, I was completely caught up in this book about a woman named Rebecca whose husband is building a causality violation device (not a time machine!). The early chapters of the book read like a typical relationship drama, but it’s set in the near future, and Rebecca gets these occasional feelings that something about the world just isn’t right. Then, everything changes, but no one seems to know it. What’s interesting is that even when circumstances change drasti Almost from the moment I picked it up, I was completely caught up in this book about a woman named Rebecca whose husband is building a causality violation device (not a time machine!). The early chapters of the book read like a typical relationship drama, but it’s set in the near future, and Rebecca gets these occasional feelings that something about the world just isn’t right. Then, everything changes, but no one seems to know it. What’s interesting is that even when circumstances change drastically, essential aspects of the characters remain the same. As you’d expect from a time travel causality violation novel, the plot gets kind of loopy, but the mind-bending qualities make the human story even more interesting. I had a great time reading this. — Teresa Preston from The Best Books We Read In February 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/02/28/riot-r...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    Version Control is going to be tough to review as I have never felt so conflicted about a book. There were some scenes in Part I that were pure genius. But once I delved into Part II I was forced to reevaluate my first impressions of this book. Imagine walking into some art gallery and coming across a piece of art that just blows your mind. Later on, when you walk past it again, you actually stop and read the artist’s statement, which consists in the usual meaningless art-speak. And you look back Version Control is going to be tough to review as I have never felt so conflicted about a book. There were some scenes in Part I that were pure genius. But once I delved into Part II I was forced to reevaluate my first impressions of this book. Imagine walking into some art gallery and coming across a piece of art that just blows your mind. Later on, when you walk past it again, you actually stop and read the artist’s statement, which consists in the usual meaningless art-speak. And you look back to that work and think “this is so fucking pretentious”. That’s how I feel about Version Control which is all flash and no substance. Once I finally slogged my way through this 500+ page book I felt cheated. It had so much potential and Dexter Palmer clearly had some great ideas…sadly these were lost in the midst of inconsistent world-building, poor characterisation (the female characters are atrocious), and a surprisingly uninspiring storyline (I mean, how could you manage to make travelling be boring?). Palmer took every opportunity to satirise every single one of his characters, in what basically amounted to satire for the sake of satire, which, if you ask me, fell flat as it had nothing smart to say. I’m not sure at what point exactly I became aware of it but Palmer clearly loves taking the piss out of millennials. And he does it in a way that brought to mind those segments on Ellen where she makes fun of millennials because they don’t know how to use a typewriter or a rotary phone (quality humor, not). At first the dialogue in this novel rang true to life. There were tense or awkward pauses, character misunderstanding someone else's choice of words, conversations could lead to nothing or suddenly escalate into arguments. But then I couldn't help but to notice how frequently characters would just have these very long monologues in which they ranted about everything and nothing. Which, yeah, some people do go on (I am doing so right now), or end up having longwinded and heated rants...but every-single character? And that's when I realised that the characters in this novels were like the characters in a film by Woody Allen (they all speak like Woody Allen regardless of their age/gender/personality). And that kind of killed any enjoyment I had left for this book. The rant-y to of my review reflects the many rants that are in this book. The Story Even if the premise for Version Control reminded me of What If, a novel I didn’t particularly care for, I was intrigued by it. The story is set in the near-future (more on that later) and follows five main characters: we have Rebecca Wright, a recovering alcoholic who is now in her late thirties and works “part-time as a customer service representative for Lovability, the online dating service where, eleven years ago, she’d actually met the man who was now her husband”; Philip, said husband, who is a brilliant scientist devoted to his work on the ‘causality violation device’ (which, in a running gag, and much to the scientists’ annoyance, gets called ‘time machine’); there is Rebecca’s BFF from college, Kate, who is a superficial bimbo (more on that later); Carson, a scientist who works under Philip and is on-and-off again dating Kate; and Alicia, “the only female post-doc in Philip’s lab” who is Not Like Other Women. There are some minor recurring characters, most of whom we get to see only in certain environments (like the two security men working in the lab) so that we never really learn about them. Rebecca and Philip have lost their son, but they don’t speak of him or how he died. Philip spends most of his time working or talking about the ‘causality violation device’ (CVD) while Rebecca mopes a lot around the house thinking of how much she wants to drink. I was expecting this to be a story that blurred the line between reality and fantasy, one that would make you question whether the ‘strange’ sensation felt by Rebecca was a sign of her spiraling mental health or something of a more fantastical nature. But this wasn’t that kind of novel. And, as I previously mentioned, at first I didn’t mind. The story was more intent on creating some realistically awkward or fraught encounters between the various characters. Rebecca’s marriage is in trouble and her relationship with Philip isn’t great. She doesn’t get particularly along with Alicia while Philip gets into a heated argument with Rebecca’s dad (who is a Unitarian minister). Kate’s derisive comments about ribs and watermelons force Carson, who is black, to question whether she’s racist. Carson is also getting pretty pissed off at one of the security guards, who keeps calling him Carlton (“acting white”). No one gets along with anyone, and the story is very much about that. Palmer seems to delight in putting his characters in the most uncomfortable situations possible. Philip’s work is repeatedly made fun by the media and one snooty potential investor, Rebecca’s knows very little about anything so is frequently made to appear dumb, Kate acts like the Basic White Chick, and Alicia is openly rude to others, especially other women (but it’s okay, cause she’s driven and Not Like Other Girls). Now and again Palmer remembers to mention that some people feel that there is something ‘wrong’ with their reality, but this is a minor thread in a story that is much more concerned with ridiculing its characters and with giving really detailed descriptions or explanations about minor aspects of this ‘near future’. The main ingredients of Palmer’s story are 1) useless millenials 2) women who don’t care or don’t have what it takes to have a career 3) unfunny caricatures. He had a lot to say on a myriad of other topics, but this often came about when two characters were having a discussion or argument about this (sexism, racism, conflict between religion and science). He dedicates many passages to modern dating, seeming to lose himself in his own ‘hilarious’ vision of the future of dating (which isn’t as original as he seems to be suggesting: “the whole idea of meeting someone in a physical place, to talk to them in real time, was so twentieth century”) or in unnecessarily long digressions about automated ‘autonomous cars’ or of how in schools kids no longer need to interact with teachers but they get taught via tablet (and Palmer spends a chapter on the “Daily Pre-School-Day Diagnostic” kids have to complete each morning). We are only given a flashback into Rebecac’s life, and rather than reading about her childhood or learning more of her relationship with her parents, we read of a period in her twenties which she aptly describes as ‘Blackout Season’. We never get why she chose to study English or what future she envisioned after her completing degree, what we get instead are scenes featuring Rebecca and her college ‘friends’, all of whom are jobless or doing temporary or part-time jobs they don’t care for, and they spend their time going to bars and clubs, getting drunk and loud, flirting and sleeping with guys that are ‘no good’. After a few years one of them meets the ‘right’ kind of man and soon the girls disband their friendship group (because if a woman is ‘seriously’ dating someone she can’t keep her friends, duh). Rebecca has a few mishaps on online dating sites, meets Philip, and the two get married even if they have nothing in common or no chemistry. Their son dies, and things start going a bit sour between the two of them. And of course, eventually, the CVD does play a role in the story. As I said, or wrote, Palmer mostly writes scenes in which his characters have awkward encounters and exchanges with each other. And, while I initially liked this aspect of his narrative as I am a fan of hysterical realism, by the halfway mark I was no longer impressed by them, in fact, they struck me as forced and unfunny. Sometimes I like reading scenes that verge on the surreal (I'm very basic, I like Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers) but there were moments in Version Control that were just jarring and poorly written (I'm talking about that scene with Alicia and the magazine...it wasn't funny, it didn't make sense, it was out-of-character, the tone was just off). The second half was very much a rehash of similar scenarios and exchanges, and the 'wrongness' felt by Rebecca never amounted to anything substantial. I was expecting a twist at some point or some reveal a la Black Mirror but nada. The story remains concerned with exploring boring and tired dynamics between characters that were little other than dull caricatures. What was the point in the story? An excuse for Palmer to write about 'what ifs' or detail minor aspects of everyday life in a future America ? Did this story require 500+ pages? Time travelling is picked up now again, but for all Philip's & co talk about the CVD, they spent far too little time talking concretely about what would happen if their machine were to work. Instead they use a lot of scientific language that seemed more intent on confusing non-sciencey readers. Maybe I could have overlooked plot-holes and never-ending diversions if Palmer's narrative had offered us some character interiority, but this third pov remains never delves into character motivations. Giving us a glimpse into Rebecca's mind would have made her into a far less one-dimensional and incomprehensible character (it was frustrating not knowing why she acted the way she did). As stories about time travel go, Version Control offers nothing new. The 'Future' Palmer's near future is really unconvincing. He refers to things that in ten and twenty years will be outdated, he sticks to this running gag of the president interrupting people's TV viewing or phone calls but we don't know when he was elected, what kind of president he is, what America's political landscape looks like. And Palmer seems wholly disinterred in anything remotely non-America (as in we have more or less no clue on what is going on in the rest of the world). The story takes place in ten or possibly even twenty years and yet his future feels very '2010'. Yes, he imagines what shopping for clothes will be like, but what he envisions has already kind of been predicted (having one's body scanned and being given an item of clothing that will fit you without needing to step in a fitting room). But what about other things? Rebecca is an alcoholic, will the future be able to provide more effective and long-term treatments ? What about cancer? Climate change? Wait, how come Palmer totally skims over climate change? Palmer's future offers nothing new. Futurama was far more innovative that this. And I couldn't help but to notice that in this future one of the security guards who works at the lab was worried that he had to teach his daughter what same-sex love was....which, how likely is that? Unsurprisingly Palmer's future struck me as very straight and gender normative. Although Palmer has no qualms about using scientific language at length, I think he glosses over his CVD machine (which is funny considering how often this machine gets mentioned) as he's more worried with detailing all the ways in which advancements in technology will strip erode any remaining notions of privacy (but millennials being dumb aren't concerned by that). The Characters It's kind of ironic that although Palmer writes about sexism (by having Alicia point out how hard it is to be treated like her other male colleagues rather than an 'oddity') his portrayal of female characters is kind of questionable (and in poor taste). Rebecca: she's our main character and is defined by three things. 1) she's Philip's wife 2) she was mother 3) she's an alcoholic. While Philip is allowed to have a personality (not a nice one but still) and goals, Rebecca is made into this pathetic cliché of a woman, who isn't intelligent or empathetic, she's isn't a great mother nor a great daughter not even a great wife or friend. She has 0 drive and 0 interests outside of alcohol and Philip. She doesn't confront Katy when she notices that she's being racist, even when Katy later on asks her whether she thought that she'd said anything offensive, she's jealous of Alicia because women can't like other women, she doesn't care for her job (cause married women don't really want to work and would rather be housewives who spend their time shopping, drinking wine, and trying to stay a size S. Which..yep, Palmer has given us some great representation here. I didn't care for Rebecca. We never know why she does the shit she does, she has no concrete history other than her 'Blackout Season' and her feelings for Philip just were largely MIA from the page. Katy: she's awful. She's dumb and superficial, is a crappy friend and person, spouts racist shit and is obsessed by the fact that she's dating a black guy. Why waste any time on her? I really got the feeling that Palmer wanted to show how insincere female friendships were (especially if one of these friends has blonde hair). Katy is just as passionless as Rebecca. She has no interest outside of men, gossip, and alcohol. Alicia: she's the kind of character that some (I said some not all) male authors believe to be 'empowering'. She loves what she does, she's smart, straight-talking, tough. She takes no shit from anyone and most men in this novel are attracter to her. Women, on the other hand, hate her because they are clearly 'intimidated' by her. Rather than making Alicia into a likeable or sympathetic character Palmer decides to make her into a truly awful bitch who behaves appallingly and doesn't understand why other women are not like her. She's also reduced to who she sleeps with, rather than being allowed to be a character in her own right. Philip and Carson: these two were stereotypes of the scientific guy who doesn't understand social etiquette. Philip spoke in this really donnish way that just never rang true (and I happen to know quite a few pedantic men). But the things Philip talks about where just...really? And why did he have to be so socially inept ? Just because you are a scientistic doesn't mean that you could never speak of something without using scientific jargon. Other characters: caricatures. They had a static role, perhaps played a part in a running joke or something. Maybe it's my fault for expecting a story with more speculative elements but dio mio! The whole dynamic between Rebecca and her genius scientist husband was so cliched and boring. And Palmer's future would have been passable if it had been rendered in more detail or if it hadn't been so intent on making fun of millennials. And 500 pages of this? I get it women who are not like Alicia (who of course posses traditionally 'male' personality traits) are bimbos who are incapable of forming meaningful relationships or saying meaningful things or having interests outside of men, diets, and gossip. Ah ah. So funny. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Vlad

    A hidden gem, this is the best way to describe this book. I honestly didn’t think this would be so compelling and smart. It is science fiction but it’s also extremely character-driven, slow and grounded. Sure, there are some ideas in it that are pure science-fiction but most of the ideas explored are already a part of our lives, focusing a lot on what it means to be alive during the information age. It is scary just how relatable it is. I said that this is a slow book and while that is true, it i A hidden gem, this is the best way to describe this book. I honestly didn’t think this would be so compelling and smart. It is science fiction but it’s also extremely character-driven, slow and grounded. Sure, there are some ideas in it that are pure science-fiction but most of the ideas explored are already a part of our lives, focusing a lot on what it means to be alive during the information age. It is scary just how relatable it is. I said that this is a slow book and while that is true, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I first started this and saw the pace I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to finish it but it does pick up and the more you get to know the characters, the more compelling it becomes. If the first part of this book is great, the second part is insane. Not in the sense of action, but of the ideas that are introduced and the way in which they are explored. Even when the more science-fiction ideas come into play, they’re always grounded into the characters and what they mean for them. This is what made Version Control an unforgettable and moving experience for me, not necessarily the ideas which on their own would have still made me like the book, but how the ideas and the characters come together to form something that left me in awe. I highly recommended Version Control for fans of science fiction and even for readers that aren’t really into science-fiction, because for me this isn’t just that. I see it as a part literary fiction and science-fiction/speculative-fiction. A book that deserves to be read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    4.5 stars because DUDE, this was one totally awesome book! Rebecca's husband is working on a causality violation device, which is called a "time machine" to the dismay of the scientists, while Rebecca goes through life feeling that things are slightly off in everyday life. It seemed like the ultimate deja vu. We spend quite a bit of time getting to know the characters and the machine but it never becomes dry because there's a good deal of humor throughout. There are also some mind-boggling moments 4.5 stars because DUDE, this was one totally awesome book! Rebecca's husband is working on a causality violation device, which is called a "time machine" to the dismay of the scientists, while Rebecca goes through life feeling that things are slightly off in everyday life. It seemed like the ultimate deja vu. We spend quite a bit of time getting to know the characters and the machine but it never becomes dry because there's a good deal of humor throughout. There are also some mind-boggling moments. I will never look at an issue of Marie Claire the same way. Once things really begin to pick up speed it's just so fascinating! There was also a lot of interesting side comments about racism and sexism. It was worked into the characters and story so it wasn't in any way preachy. I couldn't believe the number of times someone would say something awful and then say "But I'm not racist!" Right, because that comment about black people being born with a desire for BBQ and watermelon wasn't racist at all. This whole aspect of the story was done in a really interesting way. It's really hard to talk about this book without talking about some of the surprises along the way so that's all I'm going to say. I will say that it was absolutely unputdownable and I cranked through the 19 hour audio in two days. Super cool story :)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    4.5 stars. This was fantastic. I loved the writing and the characterization, and the love of science running through this story. (I was reminded of The Unseen World for the science love.) The characters, particularly Rebecca, grabbed me right away, and I liked the way the author considered race, too, through a variety of perspectives. I liked the near future setting, with a logical development of certain technologies (e.g., self-driving cars, even more ruthless use of data science). I also reall 4.5 stars. This was fantastic. I loved the writing and the characterization, and the love of science running through this story. (I was reminded of The Unseen World for the science love.) The characters, particularly Rebecca, grabbed me right away, and I liked the way the author considered race, too, through a variety of perspectives. I liked the near future setting, with a logical development of certain technologies (e.g., self-driving cars, even more ruthless use of data science). I also really liked how the author demonstrated how version control works with his characters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I stalled at page 267 and then didn't really think I wanted to renew it again at the library. I think I would say there is just not enough going on to read another 250 pages. It might be for you, it wasn't for me. I stalled at page 267 and then didn't really think I wanted to renew it again at the library. I think I would say there is just not enough going on to read another 250 pages. It might be for you, it wasn't for me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gertie

    "Terence. Hey Terence! Put that book down for a minute and help me bullshit!" This book was an unexpected treat. I listened to it in audiobook format (I would recommend audio format for this one), and the narrator did an excellent job with the various characters' voices. Coming up with a good quote from every other page of this book wouldn't even be a challenge. If you go into this expecting, oh... a time travel action-adventure, you're going to be disappointed. This is a sloooow book, however it "Terence. Hey Terence! Put that book down for a minute and help me bullshit!" This book was an unexpected treat. I listened to it in audiobook format (I would recommend audio format for this one), and the narrator did an excellent job with the various characters' voices. Coming up with a good quote from every other page of this book wouldn't even be a challenge. If you go into this expecting, oh... a time travel action-adventure, you're going to be disappointed. This is a sloooow book, however it kept my interest throughout. It is not just an entertaining story, it is social commentary. The strengths of this book lie in its ability to observe our world and recount it in such an observant and insightful manner. I literally laughed out loud quite a few times. There are moments that are just so satisfying or amusing because they have a touch of cynical comedy to them, or they simply ring true, and it's a pleasure to see that someone has observed something so ephemeral or elusive, and managed to put it into words. There were really only a few parts that I had trouble with, mainly some of the relationships. For example, what did Rebecca see in Philip in the first place? Most of the time it seemed like she was trying to convince herself he cared more than he actually did. Why did no one tell Alicia to shut the fuck up? Also, the scientists were all so formal. While I imagine that the field does have a concentration of certain types of minds, I would have liked for Carlson to at least have diverged a bit more from the likes of Philip and Alicia. Rebecca "And so each of the last guests sat down next to Rebecca, one at a time, to toss their confessions into the bottomless pool of her alcohol-addled mind. I shouldn't tell you this, but..." Phillip, this guy... he's practically a robot. We get a closer look at him later, but frankly, it's not much better. He shows he cares, a little, but mostly he is a golem made of arrogant, narcissistic moving parts and an obsession with science. There is a scene about flowers that is a perfect representation of what he is like as a husband, and in some ways, as a scientist. Oh, and the watch! "I already have plenty of ways to tell time." Philip said. "I usually carry a phone. And I can't help but be near a computer during most of my day. It's hard for me not to have an idea of what time it is. And Rebecca, this looks unnecessarily expensive; especially given its probable lack of accuracy relative to a quartz watch, which would have cost you next to nothing—" Alicia. Oh Alicia. What drove me nuts about her was that no one calls her out on being a bitch. Oh, she's cute and little... so. fucking. what. She's still a bitch. Generally everyone just accepts it, or makes excuses for her. If she had been a plain, plump woman who wore frumpy clothes, what then, hmm? The best scene with her in it was by far the, uh... let's call it the "Marie Claire bashing". I mean, the balls on this woman. It's not just nerves, which I could respect; it's arrogance, which I cannot. I really, really wanted to punch her in the face. "Good for office morale?" How the heck is that even possible? "Don't you have any decency?" Alicia yelled at Rebecca. "Do you just (view spoiler)[barge in on people while they're screwing (hide spoiler)] ? Are you out of your mind?" Carson is hard not to like. He was a bit uptight and formal like Phillip, but he seemed to have an actual beating heart. He didn't have to force himself to try to care, unlike Philip. "But most people don't want to—don't laugh—most people don't want to change the world, right? They might, you know, go out and vote or something, but for the most part they're happy to live in the world like it is. And there's nothing wrong with that. But stupid me—I have ideals." Kate... oh man, I loved this character. Kate is not perfect; but she is just so, so straightforward. I love that about her, especially when she is surrounded by characters who keep their cards too close to their vests. Just SPIT IT OUT PEOPLE. No need to though, Kate'll take care of that for you. "But he's so fucking weird, honey. He's so fucking weird." Spivey — I gotta say, this guy was hilarious. I laughed every time he tried to get Terence to bullshit with him. His theories on time travel, his anecdotes about his sister, he total obliviousness to how others perceive him; it's all part of what makes him interesting. He's a pretty clever guy, which is easily masked by his abrasiveness/friendliness. "Science fiction," Spivey said, with faint distaste. Then: "Black woman?" 'Yeah." "I figured. Otherwise they wouldn't have bothered to put a picture of a black woman on the front." He handed the book back." GERTIE GAUGE: Thinking about book while not reading it: Heck yeah. Characters worth rooting for: Yes, flawed as they were. Suspension of disbelief: You'll need your suspenders for this one. Emotional engagement: Yes, though I wouldn't have minded if it had been slightly more emotional and less about observing and reporting. Mental engagement: Definitely. Really phenomenol job of getting the mental gears turning. Memorability factor: 9/10 I will remember the experience, though I may lost some of the details. Quality of writing: Wonderful. Elevator one-liner: "It's a time travel book, but really more about relationships and perspectives than adventure." Laugh/cry/react: Laughter for sure, and some anger at characters. Something I'd change: Just the emotional aspect - needs to connect to our hearts more, not just our minds. Oh, one more thing... more variety in the scientists. Cliffhanger: Nope, it's a single book. Romance good, bad, n/a?: This one's tough. There are plenty of relationships in the book, but it gets a big convoluted. The book takes the view that you can fall in love more than once. Sort of. Errors: N/A, audiobook. Okay with rec'ing to a friend?: I REALLY want some of my friends to read this one. Follow this author? Yes. I hope the author eventually gets the recognition he deserves for being able to put out such compelling storywriting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    kris

    Hmm. I'm wildly under-qualified to write this book review, to get that out of the way. I have none of the knowledge necessary to make judgments on this book beyond what did and did not work for me explicitly. And since we all know I'm the most fickle of pickles, this is definitely A Mess. 1. As a science fiction book, I was pretty into it. Theories of how to return to a past point in time and space, and how physics would impact such a trip! Needing an exact moment of spacetime to 'anchor' your m Hmm. I'm wildly under-qualified to write this book review, to get that out of the way. I have none of the knowledge necessary to make judgments on this book beyond what did and did not work for me explicitly. And since we all know I'm the most fickle of pickles, this is definitely A Mess. 1. As a science fiction book, I was pretty into it. Theories of how to return to a past point in time and space, and how physics would impact such a trip! Needing an exact moment of spacetime to 'anchor' your machine in order to facilitate travel! The developing realization that "time travel" may not result in multiple carbon copies of a body walking around but would fold in on itself to erase the memory of the trip, the effect, the cause. I'm butchering the finer points, obviously, but I was there for that trip. I was intrigued by the possibilities and the realizations and the multiple presentations of reality, few as they were. For this aspect of the book: 4 stars. 2. As a literary book, I was NOT into it. The main characters are Traditional Literary Nonsense: Philip Steiner, a physicist developing the Causality Violation Device (or CVD) who replaces his familial connections with his work; Rebecca Wright, a woman who defines herself by her booze and her son, Sean; Sean, the fanciful artistic son; Alice, the too-intelligent Other Woman; etc. All this suffering and regret and hate creates this world without joy, without there being anything worth returning to because at the end, there's only hate and there's only betrayal and there's only blame. 1.5 stars. 3. As a book, it had just too much in it. In addition to the time travel element, this book features monologues on the theories behind Big Data, online dating, racism, racism in literature, racism in science, online presences versus presence in the "real world", God as Order versus Chaos, the sheepliness of the American People, etc. It diverges a lot and while some of these tangents are very interesting, they ultimately feel a bit like concrete around the ankles: heavy and clumsy and probably going to drag you down to some dark depths you won't be able to escape. 4. And everyone is literally such an asshole. Between Rebecca the alcoholic post-party girl and Philip the workaholic cheater and Carson the cheater and Kate the racist and Alice the cheater and—everyone is a goddamned asshole. Sure the book ends with an "ideal future" where the cheating doesn't happen and things are Good (or as Good as they can be with the minimal amount of change that can be wrought by stepping back in time ~8 years), but the reality is that all of these people still have in them the capacity for evil. Simply because they did not have the opportunity to express that evil doesn't eliminate the fact that given the chance and the place, they are, in actuality, just an asshole. (This excludes Sean, by the way. He's a kid; the worst he does is idealize his parents. I can't fault him that.) 5. I do want to recommend this book to people who are interested in character studies of assholes who might have the ability to travel through time. There are definitely some amazingly intricate threads that I'm sure I missed (like WHAT WAS UP WITH THE $20 BILLS?), and some of the digressions were fascinating! But, to me, it wasn't a romp that left me satisfied. It felt rather like clinging to a life raft at 100mph, watching the people inside kill one another slowly. Painful, and harrowing, and with no clear rescue at the end.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    Rebecca Wright feels like something is off, that the world is upside down. She lives in a near future New Jersey with driverless cars and an omnipresent president that happily introduces every TV show and delivers personalized messages to couples out on a date or families celebrating a birthday. Maybe it’s nothing though, she’s got all the hallmarks of the unreliable narrator we’ve grown used to in fiction. Meanwhile her husband is obsessively working on a causality violation device - which he’s Rebecca Wright feels like something is off, that the world is upside down. She lives in a near future New Jersey with driverless cars and an omnipresent president that happily introduces every TV show and delivers personalized messages to couples out on a date or families celebrating a birthday. Maybe it’s nothing though, she’s got all the hallmarks of the unreliable narrator we’ve grown used to in fiction. Meanwhile her husband is obsessively working on a causality violation device - which he’s tired of everyone referring to as a time machine. And there you go. All the pieces are in place and you settle in for some time travelling shenanigans. But Dexter Palmer isn’t interested in telling you that story quite yet. He meanders around, poking at ideas around big data, race, relationships and more. And you as the reader can’t help but wonder what sort of book you’ve found yourself in. You begin to feel the same sort of unease that Rebecca feels. This isn’t quite right. One of the characters in the story states; “Science fiction is a fantasy in which the science always works.” Is this a clue? Where are we headed exactly? Dexter Palmer is a wildly entertaining writer and I couldn’t help but enjoy his tangents and poking around in this world. So good!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    3.5 stars that I’m rounding up based on the crisp, clean writing. This is a subtle SF book, that for my tastes was a bit too slow. Elegant plotting, wonderful use of physics.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    4.5 stars This book was so much more than I expected going in and what I thought the direction it was going to take after reading the first couple of chapters. Taking place in the not-so-distant future, so much of technological progress could be easily imagined, whether for better or worse. Certainly a lot to think about as we, as a society, seem to be heading in the direction envisioned in this book. I also appreciated the commentary on race and how that plays a part in who we are as individuals 4.5 stars This book was so much more than I expected going in and what I thought the direction it was going to take after reading the first couple of chapters. Taking place in the not-so-distant future, so much of technological progress could be easily imagined, whether for better or worse. Certainly a lot to think about as we, as a society, seem to be heading in the direction envisioned in this book. I also appreciated the commentary on race and how that plays a part in who we are as individuals, how one thinks about oneself and how others think about you as they factor in your particular race. I listened to the audiobook narrated by January LaVoy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I should write a more thorough review but… (1) This is one hell of a time travel story. (2) And/but the time travel aspect is not "the point" of the story. (3) Not since The Intuitionist have a I read a book that dealt with race in this fashion. I should write a more thorough review but… (1) This is one hell of a time travel story. (2) And/but the time travel aspect is not "the point" of the story. (3) Not since The Intuitionist have a I read a book that dealt with race in this fashion.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    A fantastic melange of philosophy, physics, dystopian near-future, and love story. The author does an impressive job of weaving together different strands of...well, of space-time, incorporating minor discrepancies that can easily slip right by the careless reader and building not one world but three subtly different ones that nevertheless cleanly interlock. And he does it all while making you care about the characters and intensely curious about What Happens Next. The remarkable thing for me per A fantastic melange of philosophy, physics, dystopian near-future, and love story. The author does an impressive job of weaving together different strands of...well, of space-time, incorporating minor discrepancies that can easily slip right by the careless reader and building not one world but three subtly different ones that nevertheless cleanly interlock. And he does it all while making you care about the characters and intensely curious about What Happens Next. The remarkable thing for me personally was how many little connections popped up with my own life. One of the subplots in the book involves companies mining people's online profiles and activity for information in order to customize their various experiences, from shopping to dining out to romantic matches. I felt almost like somebody had mined my life for details to customize this book, because there were so many passing mentions of things I know and love -- from Firefly to comment code, from Ayn Rand to arXiv, and of course the long nerdy discussions of physics and the multiverse and the perils of turning over too much of our lives to mindless algorithms, it was all there. Even the little sidebars about race, how we see it and how we don't, were apropos. It's also one of those books in which the end makes you rethink everything that came before it (kind of like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows lol). The minute I finished the book I turned right back to the beginning to skim the first few chapters again, and was impressed at how tightly the story was knit together -- how little bits of the resolution are present even in the beginning. I also didn't fully realize the significance of the ending until about half an hour after I finished it, which was kind of neat. There's the obvious meaning of the ending, wherein the main character's actions tie up all the obvious loose ends, but then there's a second level at which those actions had an effect, which took longer to sink in. If I could give this book six stars, I would.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Muntz

    Probably the most important science fiction novel of the 21st century, or at least the one that takes the most steps for the genre. Version Control is a novel of ideas (which touches on pretty much every major concern of the information age), but it's also the closest any SF novel I've read has come to replicating the feel of literary realism, with its focus on real people, their interior lives, and how they interact with their world. It also takes a huge storytelling risk halfway through the no Probably the most important science fiction novel of the 21st century, or at least the one that takes the most steps for the genre. Version Control is a novel of ideas (which touches on pretty much every major concern of the information age), but it's also the closest any SF novel I've read has come to replicating the feel of literary realism, with its focus on real people, their interior lives, and how they interact with their world. It also takes a huge storytelling risk halfway through the novel and manages to get away with it. It's also the first science fiction novel I've read that deals so extensively with working scientists actually doing science, and the impact that has on their lives. Somehow it's sort of surprising it took so long for someone to write this book--the closest thing I can think of is China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh, which is a down-to-earth look at labor in a distopian future, but Version Control is much more compelling, rounded, and penetrating where that book only grazed the surface. There's so much to say about this book I don't know where to start exactly, but I feel like it's taught me something about the possibilities of writing SF in way nothing has for a very long time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    230917: if there is a platonic ideal for a science fiction novel crossed with literary novel, this is possibly it. like decathlon athletes are very good in several ways- just not world best in any one, this is a very good novel. this is an easy read, integrates credible science, believable scientific work, perceptive character and world building. my father is retired chemical physics Prof and so i have had the privilege of seeing science and learning how it is done, how to interact, how to appre 230917: if there is a platonic ideal for a science fiction novel crossed with literary novel, this is possibly it. like decathlon athletes are very good in several ways- just not world best in any one, this is a very good novel. this is an easy read, integrates credible science, believable scientific work, perceptive character and world building. my father is retired chemical physics Prof and so i have had the privilege of seeing science and learning how it is done, how to interact, how to appreciate, how to see emotional investment in the most abstract math possible... i am not a scientist of any sort. i have always and continue now to read science fiction, and recognize the breadth and fascinating aspects of the entire social world of science. i was once tutored exactly what is non-linear dynamics (chaos theory) through a simple diagram by one grad student who worked in another lab. i am very fortunate in this. my father's sisters are artists (verbal, visual), my mom does not wonder what her husband does, my brother is a lawyer interested in aboriginal law. i am not a scientist but can see the scientists portrayed here. but the book is long... so this review is long. i may sympathize with the scientists here, but do not claim to know the science. there is subtle satire, there is investigation of social world, particularly racism and sexism, but it is ultimately the 'causality violation device' that matters most. or would in a pure sf book. on the other, it is the family and work and romantic dynamics that matters most. or would in a pure literary book. people love, people fail, people betray, people die. this happens in our real world. this is the tragedy of living. people have a second chance that must be integrated in the first chance. this is the comedy of living... but the book is long... maybe it has to be long. maybe the reader needs to have a 'control' baseline world which she can use to measure the other worlds in this 'thought experiment'. but then many readers probably do not think of the novel as fertile ground for experiments, and indeed as the ideas dominate there is no experiment in the way the story is told. characters are coherent, if perhaps over-determined by their environment, and the narrative unfolds in usual 'free indirect prose', that is, floating around in and out of this person and that person in a shared world, though there is some gesture to deceit, some use of foreshadowing, some diary- but nothing to doubt veracity of single plot even seen by several points of view... this is the only reason it is not five, though i can understand why it is for other readers: it is long. i did read this book easily in three big gulps, i did enter into many scenes and heads of characters, i did greatly enjoy the integration of science and fiction. this is a high four...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tara - Running 'n' Reading

    I was really excited about this one, mostly because of the description and the pre-release buzz; in addition, this author is new to me and this type of read is a little different than my usual choices. I have to admit that, even when I was dying to finish (sometimes out of boredom), the novel remained intriguing to me. This was one of those experiences where I kept reading, holding out for a miracle, because I just knew that something amazing would happen and I would be able to shout about this I was really excited about this one, mostly because of the description and the pre-release buzz; in addition, this author is new to me and this type of read is a little different than my usual choices. I have to admit that, even when I was dying to finish (sometimes out of boredom), the novel remained intriguing to me. This was one of those experiences where I kept reading, holding out for a miracle, because I just knew that something amazing would happen and I would be able to shout about this one from the rooftops; unfortunately, it never happened. It's a good book; a solid effort (in my humble opinion) by a celebrated author, and I'm sure it will receive plenty of praise. Palmer definitely injected some commentary, dealing with issues of race, social media and the manner in which we give our lives over to technology, sexism and religion; for me, it felt like too much for one novel. A more sophisticated, intellectual reader may have an entirely different experience. For an extremely well-written take on this, check out this review by Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books: http://gilmoreguidetobooks.com/2016/0...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Smart, but so much. Lots of big ideas, not so big ideas, characters, plot lines. Easy to read, but also, imo, easy to put down. And so very much about the near future that I predict that it will be irrelevant, or at least 'quaint,' a decade or less from now. And I prefer books with longer-lasting, more universal appeal. Knocking off a star because, a year later, I remember *nothing* about the book. Smart, but so much. Lots of big ideas, not so big ideas, characters, plot lines. Easy to read, but also, imo, easy to put down. And so very much about the near future that I predict that it will be irrelevant, or at least 'quaint,' a decade or less from now. And I prefer books with longer-lasting, more universal appeal. Knocking off a star because, a year later, I remember *nothing* about the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was excellent. I read this as part of the Bossy Book challenge with Apocalypse Whenever. Its where someone else picks the book you will read. This was a great choice. I admit to doubts at first. Rebecca sucked me in. Her story was compelling. That is really all I can say. If you are a tiny bit interested in time travel, try this. I finished this in 2 days. Couldn't put it down. This was excellent. I read this as part of the Bossy Book challenge with Apocalypse Whenever. Its where someone else picks the book you will read. This was a great choice. I admit to doubts at first. Rebecca sucked me in. Her story was compelling. That is really all I can say. If you are a tiny bit interested in time travel, try this. I finished this in 2 days. Couldn't put it down.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Oh, my—yes, please. More like this. Well, not exactly like this, perhaps... Dexter Palmer's second novel Version Control is beautifully self-contained, needing no sequels, prequels or companion works. But more books like this one, with its seamless mix of physics and personality? That'd be most welcome, thanks. It's confidently written, too—though of course many of Palmer's readers will already know what "version control" is, he waits until page 308 to define it. * Rebecca Wright is a woman in her Oh, my—yes, please. More like this. Well, not exactly like this, perhaps... Dexter Palmer's second novel Version Control is beautifully self-contained, needing no sequels, prequels or companion works. But more books like this one, with its seamless mix of physics and personality? That'd be most welcome, thanks. It's confidently written, too—though of course many of Palmer's readers will already know what "version control" is, he waits until page 308 to define it. * Rebecca Wright is a woman in her thirties who does phone support and marketing for Lovability, an online dating service. Rebecca is married to Philip Steiner (whom she actually met through Lovability, back when she was just a member), an experimental physicist who has been working at Stratton University for several years now on a "causality violation device" (don't call it a 'time machine')—a complex mechanism which, despite repeated testing and no obvious physical flaws, doesn't seem to be working. Such null results are, of course, a major part of science, and part of what makes this novel such good science fiction is how well Palmer handles this—as Philip's colleague Carson Tyler (who seems to be the character closest to Palmer himself) says,"One perception that nonscientists often have {...}is that science always succeeds. And you only ever hear about the successes, so from the outside, scientific progress can look like nothing but a string of triumphs. But most people aren't aware of what an astonishing amount of failure is involved in scientific research. We screw up day after day. And the worst thing about it isn't the failure in and of itself—it's that from the point of view of the general public, or even the places where we publish, on which our careers depend, there's no point to failure. Success they're happy to hear about; failure you'd better keep to yourself. Even though failure is something you can learn from: common sense would tell you that it's almost as valuable to know what not to do as it is to get things right. "So when we fail, which is often, the social pressures, or sometimes our own shame, can make us stay quiet. The failure becomes invisible. And the illusion that science is nothing but a series of successes is preserved." —p.103 Rebecca and Philip are also in mourning for the death of their son, Sean, who died in an automobile accident several years ago. So far, there's nothing about Version Control that couldn't have happened in our mundane universe. Stratton U. may be fictional, for example, but it's entirely typical; you could swap it out for many real-life institutions of higher learning without causing a ripple. But... very early on, Rebecca and Philip's world starts seeming very different from our own. What Palmer calls "a certain subtle wrongness" (p.4) starts accumulating. Self-driving automobiles a commonplace, their green license plates outnumbering the red ones required on manually-driven cars? Sure, that's probably coming, but... how did the Gipper get on the $20 bill? And MySpace is still a thing? How could that have happened? Palmer offers no quick explanations, but this feeling of wrongness struck me strongly, as I've felt similarly myself. Sculptor Seward Johnson turns out to be entirely real, though. And, actually, it's amazing how much of Palmer's worldbuilding felt right to me—how often Palmer seemed to be writing for me. From his homage to the "vintage Model M keyboard going clickety-clack" (p.289) to the way doing the dishes can be a welcome distraction in a time of sadness; from the fact that Rebecca's father is a Unitarian minister to Philip Steiner's realization that Blade Runner's Deckard being a replicant "makes neither formal nor thematic sense" (p.122), Palmer repeatedly incorporated details which resonated with something I've experienced or said myself. Or wished I'd said, anyway...{...}salmon is a dish that's hard to screw up unless you have malicious intent. —p.120 Palmer's perspicacity extends to other areas, too. Before Rebecca and Philip got together, back when Rebecca was just one Lovability subscriber, she reacts to an email from one potential suitor like this:But it was so well written: it was amazing to her that she'd come so quickly to find proper grammar and spelling to be a turn-on, but here she was. Look at that properly nested series of punctuation marks after "don't hate me." That's hot. Look at that semicolon! Bradley might have been the first guy to message her who'd used a semicolon. —p.84.Sadly, her date with Bradley doesn't work out—even before he sends her a multi-point email mansplaining how she could be so much better at dating: But then once she opened the text box and began to type, she looked at the wall of words she was replying to, and opted instead for five quick keystrokes of netspeak: tl:dr —p.89That section, which is as funny as any dating-disasters scene in any rom-com I've run into, ends with one of my favorite obscenities, too: (view spoiler)["Jesus Fuck." (hide spoiler)] * However... although it does have many light-hearted moments, Version Control is a serious work of literature, unafraid to tackle contentious topics, like the way people in the U.S. approach race and racism. Palmer's author photo, on the book jacket's back flap, shows his skin as being one of those hues of brown that Americans usually call "black," as opposed to one of the pinker shades that usually get diagnosed as "white." Version Control is set in the United States, and so this sort of black-or-white thinking matters to the novel. But while he's obviously thought deeply about the issue, Palmer never allows it to overwhelm the story he wants to tell. Palmer himself seems rather impatient with the whole question of race, in fact. Carson Tyler seems even more of a direct standin for Palmer here:The fact of the matter was that Carson did tend to avoid talking about race: not because he was afraid to confront certain nebulously defined truths about himself, but because he found the subject to be excruciatingly uninteresting. He felt that race was not a characteristic that was a part of his identity, but one that was projected upon him by the gaze of others who looked upon him; as such it was ephemeral, there and gone as soon as the gaze was broken. And yet other people, most other people, seemed not to think that way at all: they seemed to insist that race was a thing as real as flesh. —p.345 This theme—that race is more like a rôle, performed in reaction to the gaze of others, than it is an innate and immutable trait, recurs elsewhere in Version Control. Spivey, one of the Stratton lab's security guards, calls Carson Tyler "Carlton" and treats him with genial derision—ironically, in an apparent attempt to establish his own authenticity. Spivey's fellow guard Terence (who has his own ideas about race), wondersWhich of Spivey's voices was real, and which one was performance? —p.132Palmer does not provide any facile answers, but perhaps that in itself is a clue to how to proceed. * This was a good morning: she was not yet thinking about drinking. —p.205Alcohol—the enjoyment and the abuse thereof—is another recurring theme in Version Control. Rebecca Wright spends a fair amount of time counting (and miscounting) drinks; her alcoholism is another somber thread that runs throughout the novel. And, when she goes to a party with her college buddy Kate in New York City,In the new world a woman who was blackout drunk was the rarest of beauties: how often could you have the pleasure of speaking to someone while being dead certain that they would never remember what you said? Who would pass up the chance to write history on water? —p.335 * I already knew that I liked Dexter Palmer's work—his first novel, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, was "stylish, full of lush imagery and ornate phrases," as I said when I read it back in 2010—but I was even more impressed with Version Control. There's no sophomore slump here—I've rarely (if ever) seen hard science fiction blended so well with such a warm and human story. The beginning of Part II, in particular, gave me chills, and Version Control ends just as it should, too, in the only way I think it could, really—not a happily-ever-after for all concerned, but a proper rounding-out. So far, at least, Version Control is the best book I've read all year.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    What a great novel for me to start 2017 off with! I love unique, complex novels, and Version Control more than fits the bill. Dexter Palmer is a great writer, and he's crafted a riveting work of science fiction. It was unlike anything I've ever read. Version Control takes place in a slightly future, slightly alternate universe to ours. The President is an omnipresent figure who appears on your TV or on your phone call without warning. There are self-driving cars. Reagan is on the twenty-dollar bi What a great novel for me to start 2017 off with! I love unique, complex novels, and Version Control more than fits the bill. Dexter Palmer is a great writer, and he's crafted a riveting work of science fiction. It was unlike anything I've ever read. Version Control takes place in a slightly future, slightly alternate universe to ours. The President is an omnipresent figure who appears on your TV or on your phone call without warning. There are self-driving cars. Reagan is on the twenty-dollar bill. And in this version of America lives Rebecca Wright, who has the persistent feeling that everything in the world is slightly off. She's still coping with a tragedy which occurred a couple of years ago. She works in customer service for the dating site, Lovability, that matched her with her husband, Philip. Philip is a physicist who has been working, unsuccessfully, for years on a causality violation device, what a layperson might call a time machine. Version Control is the story of Rebecca and Philip's marriage, their lives, Philip's science, and their dystopian world. Palmer's novel contains multitudes. It's excellently constructed and plotted. It explores many big ideas, like race and philosophy and fate. I love the commentary it makes things on things such as online dating; it may be set in the future but its observations apply to our contemporary society. Palmer deftly handles a number of themes. I loved some of the phrases that are recurring throughout, like, the best of all possible worlds and, Nothing is as it should be; everything is upside down. The repetition of these lines made me eager to keep track of their significance (see: a lot of sticky notes marking their appearance) and made reading Version Control like putting together a puzzle; much as the scientists in the novel search for patterns in the data, the presence of these motifs ultimately adds up to a breathtaking whole. I also loved Version Control because it features a big twist halfway through. I love the surprise of a great twist halfway through a work; usually they come at or towards the end of a work of fiction. I hadn't been so floored by a twist at the halfway mark since Gone Girl. The world of Version Control is immersive and enveloping; reading it feels like living a life. This book is bursting with imagination and intelligence. In the end, the story wraps up just the way it has to. Dexter Palmer is clearly a visionary author. I highly recommend Version Control. If you want a smart, entertaining novel that will make you think, this one's for you. I felt like applauding at the end of this impressive work. I can't wait to read Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion and anything he writes in the future.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.